It's always good keeping an eagle eye out for books by favourite authors. As some of you may know, my all time favourite author is BB (the pen name of Denys Watkins-Pitchford), who while being possibly best known as a naturalist writer, also wrote a number of well known children's books. Brendon Chase is a famous one of his, but one I'd been after for a while is The Little Grey Men which was published in 1942.
This book tells the exploits of four gnomes, named after the flowers Baldmoney, Sneezewort, Dodder and Cloudberry. The plot is that Cloudberry heads off down the Brook and fails to return. The remaining trio decide to head off down the Folly Brook to hunt for their long lost friend and the story unfolds against a background of the English countryside throughout the seasons. This book was so well received when it was published, due to it's detailed descriptions of the natural world, it received the Carnegie medal for the best children's book of 1942.
But you're probably wondering why I'm rambling on telling you all this. Well yesterday lunchtime I popped out for a bit of fresh air at lunchtime. Just behind work is an Oxfam bookshop. I've bought quite a few books here so I thought I'd have 5 minutes for a bit of a rummage as I passed. Imagine my surprise to find The Little Grey Men in the children's section. It's a 3rd edition from 1957, but in remarkably good condition with a near perfect dust jacket. I bought it on the spot, despite the comment from the Oxfam employee who took my money, and said "you do realise this is £7.99" in a manner which spoke volumes - do you really want to pay this much for an old children's book. Maybe I should have come clean, but this book in this condition is worth about 4 times what I paid for it.
Not that I'm selling it. It will be added to the burgeoning BB library on my shelves. If you have never read a BB book, I'd recommend it, not least for the fantastic lino-cut drawings by the author.
Speaking of unexpected finds, and changing the subject completely, a North American purple gallinule has been found, sadly dead, in a Devon garden. Only the third record for the UK (if accepted) but fascinating. Details here: